Many days passed,
but the sons did not return. Emperor Sagara was again very worried. He had already
performed the preliminary rites for the sacrifice. So he himself could not go in search of
the horse. He sent for his grandson Amshumanta and said, 'Dear child, your sixty thousand
uncles who went in search of the horse have not come back till this day. Please go and
find them and the horse also. You must be careful and judge wisely. Come back with
success.' He sent his grandson with his blessings.
Amshumanta started with the army, as instructed by his grandfather. He was unable to
find the horse on the earth though he roamed far and wide. He finally entered Patala
through the hole dug by his uncles. As he was wandering there, his eyes fell upon Sage
Kapila's Ashrama and the ashes piled up like a mountain. The horse was grazing at a
distance. There was no road ahead.
He was a little frightened. There was no way beyond and there was such a huge pile of
ash. What could have happened? He was deep in thought. Just then he heard a voice from
Heaven -'Child, this is the pile of ashes of your uncles. They were destroyed by the wrath
of Sage Kapila.' Amshumanta felt very sad on hearing this. He decided to perform the
funeral rites for them so that the souls of the dead might attain salvation. But though he
searched everywhere for water, there was none. He did not know what to do and was worried.
Just then he saw Garuda in the sky. As you know, Garuda is the big eagle. He is Lord
Vishnu's favourite, on whose back the Lord flies whenever He wants to go anywhere. Garuda
'Royal prince, do not worry. There have died for -the good of the world. They ended
thus here, suse of the curse of a sage. Their souls cannot go heaven by the ordinary
funeral rites. They can get salvation only when the divine Ganga is brought from Heaven
and made to flow on this pile of their ashes. Yet, first take back this horse to your
Amshumanta had no other way either. So he returned to Ayodhya with the horse and
delivered him to his grandfather. Though Sagara felt happy on seeing the horse, he felt
very sad on hearing that all of his brave and strong sons had died at once. But since he
had already performed the preliminary ceremonies for Ashwamedha, he controlled his sorrow,
and performed the sacrifice in the prescribed way.
But until the divine Ganga was brought down from Heaven, his sone could not attain
salvation. This thought continued to worry him. Finally, becoming desperate, he left his
kingdom to his grandson Amshumanta, saying, 'The task of seeing that your uncles attain
salvation is yours.' Sagara then went to the forest to perform 'Tapas'.
"Though he became the king, Amshumanta never thought of his personal happiness. He
was always thinking of the task he had to perform - he had to bring the divine Ganga,
according to his grandfather's command. As he could not think of any solution, after some
years, he also made over his kingdom to his son Dilipa."
Bhagiratha's mother, who was telling him the story, continued:
"That same king Dilipa was your father. He too was always thinking about the means
of bringing Ganga from Heaven. He had also another worry, as he had no children. At least,
guided by our kind preceptor, the sage Vasishtha, we worshipped the sacred cow Nandini in
his hermitage. She blessed us and you were born. But your father was worried that he could
not bring Ganga and help his grandfathers attain salvation. He passed away while you were
"This, dear son, is the story of your race. And also the answer to your question.
You have now heard all. And now let us see what you will do."
Having said this, Bhagiratha's mother gazed at her son, curious and eager to hear what
he would say.